Shiine On 3-day indoor festival at Butlin’s Minehead 12-14 November 2021
After a couple of successful alternative punky weekenders at Butlin’s Minehead it was time to jump on a decade or so and take in a 90s version. It was bigger – around 7500 capacity – using the ‘Skyline’ big top type arena, in addition to the more club like ‘Centre Stage’ and ‘Reds’ venues, along with a very atmospheric small ‘pub’ stage at the Inn on the Green.
Late afternoon darkness arrives and The Pigeon Detectives are first on my sheet of scribbled notes – my Shiine On shopping list. “We’re The Pigeon Detectives – we’re from Leeds – dirty Leeds!”
Very impressive. I have seen them once before but only know the singles and the stage antics of lead man Bowman keep the interest. Great start and some very proficient mic swinging.
The Coral were next but I was towards the back of this echoey arena. (I was here with Plymouth Dave and we awaited the arrival of our Butlin’s flatmate Glasto Nige: hence we were hanging at the back.) I’m wondering after seeing them again if The Coral are better on record than live – it could just be this venue.
My next ‘appointment’ was with Welsh indie rockers Feeder. Boisterous and loud and again it’s the singles I know that are the highlights – Buck Rogers in a big crowd – love it.
Then later it was over to the Reds venue for The Neville Staple Band.
They open with Gangsters. Great start and the set rolls out various Specials classics, finishing with Ghost Town. Not quite in the Shiiine On genre but music I’m more familiar with. Their set spans midnight and the crowd are dancing.
That was it for Friday. There was stuff on until way into the night but a bit of restraint was needed if I was going to survive three days.
Saturday lunchtime and it was off to the Centre Stage. This is the best of the venues here, whether seated on the spacious rear tiers or standing down the front. It even feels like night time during the day.
Stones and Roses first, from San Diego. A comedy hotchpotch of covers all mixed up – clever, and weird – switching between songs and styles such as Blur songs mashed with Oasis. They had an exhausting 90 minute set as Nirvarnot had a Covid problem.
Next a more conventional tribute band: Oas-is. The place was packed and it provided a good early afternoon singalong with a lead singer really playing up his Liam acting.
Back over at the Skyline it was The Farm. Decent..but this was cranked up to something special with the introduction of the last song, Altogether Now. It was dedicated to Andy Barker of 808 State, who died earlier in the week, and another lifelong friend of lead singer Peter Hooton. The last post start set the tone. An emotional rendition of a great song and that was really uplifting. (Shiiine version)
Black Grape are the archetypal Shiiine On band. The Adidas trainers and bucket hats were down the front in numbers. Shaun Ryder ambles and vapes his way through it all – how has he managed to find 2021. I retreated to sit on an arcade game to listen to the second half. of the set.
Cast are more my thing and they were my band of the day although the echo of the arena wasn’t helping them either. Walk Away Walk Away Walk Away…..
We wandered over to the Reds venue after that for Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. I’d misread the line-up though: it was Ned’s Acoustic Dustbin and after a few songs we left as they were lost in the big room. NAD are about noise surely – they were really good when I saw them a few years ago.
Back upstairs to Centre Stage to see what we could see. Dance music of the boop boop variety with Sunscreem. Bit of a taste of Ibiza. But then as midnight approached it was over to The Inn on the Green for a nice surprise: The Chesterfields.
People were packed in with a small stage area in one corner. This was reminiscent of a pub gig in the mid-80’s and the band had that classic John Peel session jangly guitar sound which I enjoyed immensely. Worth a YouTube look for Last Train to Yeovil or Ask Johnny Dee. They had a great song, which I will seek out*, that listed loads of old bands… can’t find it yet. (Yes thanks to Andy E for pointing me in the direction of The Chesterfields.)(*Songbird, a new one – thanks David Rose for that update.)
Day three and I’m still in the game. A bit of live comedy in Reds first then it’s Sunday lunchtime in the Centre Stage venue with Chris Helme, of one album wonders The Seahorses. A set peppered with self-deprecating humour and all the songs a Seahorses fan could have wanted. Blinded by the Sun is one of my tunes of the year, old though it may be.
Then it’s Republica, fronted by ever smiling Saffron, and who really looked to be enjoying themselves in front of a bumper lunchtime crowd. Their big singles stand out a mile: Drop Dead Gorgeous and Ready to Go.
Back over to the big top.. the Skyline with its echo and the tale end of Dodgy. I’ve seen Dodgy and lead singer Nigel Clark play this year already so Republica won that clash. (Clark with Chris Helme playin
I didn’t give Jim Bob (Carter USM) my full attention with aching legs flagging but an enjoyable mix of old and new – he has a new album.
Next another surprise inclusion in this three day feast: The Chameleons. Dark 80s rather than 90s fare but very welcome and one of the bands of the day. Original singer Mark Burgess delivers a great sound.
Then a second go of the year for Glasvegas. The sound is horrible. More than most, Glasvegas are losing themselves in the echo chamber surroundings. I’d like to give them a try in a normal indoor venue. I saw them at Victorious Festival earlier this year and was unmoved but like them on record. We retreat before the end to muster for the final band of the weekend, well our final one… there’s hours more in the smaller venues but I was done. New ankles and legs required.
This finale from Peter Hook and the Light was fitting. Wonderful set. Packed arena and a pumping bass sound that beat the venue echo… well nearly. Ceremony, She’s Lost Control, Ceremony, Shadowplay, Blue Monday, Transmission… so many classics.
My third Peter Hook set this year and the best, the longest and a brilliant finish… a euphoric Love Will Tear Us Apart. Not sure it should be euphoric but it was. A celebration of being back and a big two fingers up to Covid.
These Butlin’s weekenders are a great way to spend some time with friends wandering from band to band, setting out your own playlist from the huge array on offer, immersed in an endless supply of ale – which could do with some improvement – Guiness default kicked in. With the self-catering accommodation you can keep the lid on the unhealthy horror show of food on offer…. and even grab a very un-rock’n’roll afternoon nap 😎.